Known simply as Lady Pan early in life, she hails from an interesting family background. Her father was simply a clerk, but he was convicted of a crime and sentenced to death. After his death, Lady Pan and her elder sister were brought to the Weaving Chamber as punishment for their father’s crimes. As the name implies, this chamber was a place within the palace where women were sent to as punishment and expected to create woven goods for imperial needs. It is said that the officers saw how beautiful she was and told Sun Quan of her beauty.
She would go on to become one of Sun Quan’s concubines, then one of his wives. She gave birth to Sun Liang and once he was made the heir apparent, he approached his father with a request. He asked Sun Quan to release Lady Pan’s older sister from the weaving room and marry her to a worthy man. Sun Quan agreed to the request coming from his favored son; the fact that he went to his father to make this request on behalf of his aunt shows a notable amount of the filial piety that he must have felt toward his mother.
In the following year, Sun Quan established Lady Pan as the empress of Wu. The complicated nature of her personality and history becomes clear in the coming years. She is said to have had a short temper and often slandered Sun Quan’s other wives out of jealousy, but her actions were not all cruel. In fact, in Sun Quan’s later years when he was suffering from illness, she tended to him with so much dedication that she would often be exhausted after helping him for long hours. She even became emaciated from how much her focus was placed upon taking care of her ailing husband. This would ultimately lead to her death, for a number of servants took advantage of her when she was in a deep sleep and strangled her to death.
Her end was initially blamed on a sudden illness, but once the plot was found out, the servants responsible were sentenced to death. Not long after Empress Pan died, Sun Quan’s illness got the best of him. Emperor and empress were buried together at Jiang Tumulus.